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Employers investing in Social media Policy

While the topic may sound too dramatic, but this may soon shape into a legal IP rights (ref: Intellectual Property) issue in coming times. Over the last few years, there has been a constant change in the firm’s outlook about our personal cyber life. Some firms I know have been very aggressive in putting a strict policy upfront, at the time of joining. We are pushing our social IQ, and increasingly becoming more vocal sitting behind a device connected to internet.

I believe with fast paced social media expansion, two things are converging very rapidly – your personal opinion and your company’s internet footprint.

I have been managing my blog for last 4-5 years, authored information security articles for multiple magazines, and had been a speaker in conferences. I do have presence on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other mumbo-jumbo social channels as well.

Initially, companies never really bothered about what you do online as long as it’s your “personal time” and “personal resources”. Then came into effect the screening part. Ideally I had to get my blogs verified by the “Communication Excellence” (CE) or marketing department before posting it public. This also included my talks, and magazine articles. Whether I’m writing for my company blog, or my personal, I had to get the necessary approvals beforehand.

The reason behind this screening or approval process was to make sure there is no confidential content that can harm client relations or companies presence in the market. The CE department verifies that you don’t breach the NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement) and have been secretive towards your employer’s internal buzz. This all makes perfect sense.

I abide as long as it does not include ripping the essence of the article and making it a chaos of words.

Now in 2014, a new trend is hitting the cyber freedom. Employers are getting too possessive of their employee’s public presence because it may bite them in their #$% with the public feedback and interpretation.

Often, the reader tends to believe in the personal opinions of the individual as being a reflection of the employer. This sucks!

So what can we do? Some bloggers, and social media buffs do mention the disclaimer specifically addressing this very cause. It’s must and I’ve done that as well (here). But still, there have been times when office management has raised concerns on the material being posted. They do have concerns of the brand image that follows with the article on my “personal blog”.

I know, we may chuckle on such Glassbergen cartoons, but its not a satire. Today, employers are asking to submit your credentials for Facebook and Twitter for background checks and to keep a close scrutiny. Recently, there has been news (suggested reading) where employees have been asked to give control of their social media accounts to their employer for the right ‘marketing purposes’ – A new social media policy as they say! Employees may own the account, but the employer has right to post on their behalf as well. To me, this is not right. This is not my employer’s property. Worst thing, this policy holds even if you leave the company. Damn!

Such policies will get more restrictive and conservative towards your voice on a public platform, and will eventually encourage you towards “anonymous posts”.

I urge that deterrence is not the way to prevent social freedom, and neither should an employer reach to retributive decisions. I suggest to have a clear discussion with your employer, or the concerned team and set the ground rules. Always have a consent in written, and make sure you are aware of the firm’s hush hush.

But, it is never viable to share credentials at all under any circumstances. The content on a personal account on any social media is still the property the creator. Firms should not be overly insecure. Period.

Let me know your thoughts around it.

Reference: https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140826185209-7472152-employer-you-who-owns-your-cyber-life